2pm: The next day, Sunday, m25, when I got to 100 Centre Street, there were half a dozen Occupiers holding camp outside. They had a supply of food, water and cigarettes ready for anyone who might be released. There were several others inside the courtrooms as well; they were tracking docket numbers and arraignments, and liaising between the National Lawyers Guild, those of us on the outside, and off-site Jail Support coordinators.
The off-site coordinators handle a phone and text line that people can contact to insure the NLG has been notified of an arrest and to get information about a comrade after arrest. By reaching out to the jail support team via text and email, and the larger OWS community via Twitter, the team helps to make sure that people—jail support—are at the precinct or courthouse whenever someone is being detained. They also provide “Know Your Rights” and Jail Support training. This educates people on the roles and tasks that are essential to keeping track of our comrades as they move through the system. Additionally the training outlines the information required by the NLG during the arraignment process, as well as preparing for potential future court dates.
Although we are there specifically to provide support to Occupy Wall Street protestors, we will offer support to anyone getting out of jail, if it is within our means to do so. If we have food available, and they’re hungry, we feed them. If we have water or juice or coffee, and they want some, we give it to them. When people ask to bum or buy a cigarette—the most common post-release request—we oblige, free of charge.
This is arguably one of the most important and effective outreach efforts that OWS partakes in. The opportunity to talk with working class people, mostly black and Latin@, who are especially targeted by the NYPD, allows us to reach members of targeted communities on an incredibly personal level and make a connection between their situations and a larger political struggle. We’re all at the arbitrary control of the system, dehumanized for profit, and made to to struggle so others may gain.
Hopefully they share what they saw and talked to us about with their friends, families, and communities.